The implications of the massive DDOS on KrebsOnSecurity

Brian Krebs writes one of the best security blogs out there. He frequently names the bad guys behind attacks and data theft. Recently he published a series of articles on a company that does DDOS (Distributed Denial Of Service) attacks for profit. Two weeks after the first article appeared he reported a massive and sustained DDOS attack on his site. At its peak it reached over 620 gigabits per second, by far the largest such attack ever seen.

The attackers were able to mount such a large attack by harnessing the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Many of these have buggy software and few are ever patched by their manufacturers. Given their great numbers and easy compromise it’s possible to create an online army bigger than anyone could before. And it’s likely that army will be used to silence voices on the Internet more and more in the future. We jabber on and on about free speech on the net but unless we take steps to defend it we won’t have it much longer.

The Genetics of Beer Yeast

Scientists in Belgium took a look at over 150 beer yeast strains to trace their genetic lineage. Their findings show that beer yeasts began to differentiate themselves from their wild counterparts in the 1500s, which was around the time that monastic brewers began the practice of using the sediment from one batch to inoculate the next. Interestingly, this was long before Louis Pasteur discovered the role of yeast in fermentation.

You’re How Old? We’ll Be in Touch

For someone in the over-50 age bracket ageism isn’t just a word is something you have to deal with on a regular basis, particularly when you’re looking for employment. It’s illegal, of course, but extremely easy to get away with under the guise of “over-qualified” or “doesn’t fit with our culture” yet…

Not one negative stereotype about older workers holds up under scrutiny. Abundant data show that they’re reliable, handle stress well, master new skills and are the most engaged of all workers when offered the chance to grow and advance on the job. Older people might take longer to accomplish a given task, but they make fewer mistakes. They take longer to recover from injury but hurt themselves less often. It’s a wash. Motivation and effort affect output far more than age does.

It’s time we looked at older workers as no less valuable than anyone else and make sure our definition diversity includes age.

The Burning Desire for Hot Chicken

I have to be honest, I hadn’t heard of Nashville Hot Chicken until KFC started advertising their version of it. Needless to say, it’s hot. How hot? At the hottest levels, the restaurant will try to talk you out of it (and may take a picture of you suffering). Naturally, that only makes it more attractive to those who like spicy foods.

This story reminds me of the vindaloo I had in England a while back. It literally had me on the floor at one point. Unlike Danny Chau I don’t recall the experience with anything resembling nostalgia.

What “free speech” should really mean online

You hear a lot about “free speech” and the First Amendment in connection with online forums like Twitter and Facebook. But “free speech” is the wrong way to think about them.

The First Amendment applies strictly to government, not private companies. Even then it’s not absolute, there are still limits to what you can say. On the other hand, private entities like Twitter and Facebook are free to determine for themselves what you can and cannot say in their domains. That determination has proven to be difficult, especially for Twitter. To make it worse, they find themselves criticized equally for removing abusive posts and for not removing them.

In the end, as the article suggests, it’s up to the Twitters and Facebooks to establish guidelines that reflect their communities and do the least amount of harm to everyone. It won’t be “free speech” in absolute terms, but it will be “free enough speech”.


Burnout: Minds turned to ash

We may think that job-related burnout is a modern affliction, but it’s been a recognized condition since the ancient Greeks and is mentioned in the Old Testament. Still, there’s something about modern life that causes more of us to be affected by it.

A walk in the country or a week on the beach should, theoretically, provide a similar sense of relief. But such attempts at recuperation are too often foiled by the nagging sense of being, as one patient put it, “stalked” by the job. A tormenting dilemma arises: keep your phone in your pocket and be flooded by work-related emails and texts; or switch it off and be beset by unshakeable anxiety over missing vital business. Even those who succeed in losing the albatross of work often quickly fall prey to the virus they’ve spent the previous weeks fending off.

Burnout increases as work insinuates itself more and more into every corner of life – if a spare hour can be snatched to read a novel, walk the dog or eat with one’s family, it quickly becomes contaminated by stray thoughts of looming deadlines. Even during sleep, flickering images of spreadsheets and snatches of management speak invade the mind, while slumbering fingers hover over the duvet, tapping away at a phantom keyboard.

One reason it’s different now is our always-on connection to the Internet, social media and apps that measure our steps, calories and sleep. As the article says, “The burnt-out case of today belongs to a culture without an off switch.”

Inside Twitter’s 10-Year Failure To Stop Harassment

Twitter has had a problem with abuse and harassment virtually since it began. Women and minorities are the most frequent targets, often for no other reason than they have an account on the service. Twitter, despite being more than aware of the problem, has done practically nothing about it, even for the most high profile users.

But don’t worry, they just revamped their “Moments” feature that no one cares about or uses.